BYRAM-The state Department of Transportation has begun work on a nearly $15 million project designed to make a 1/2nmile stretch of Route 206 at Cat Swamp Mountain in Byram safer for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. DOT officials said retaining walls already have been put in place and signs posted to mark the first section of the project, which will include operational and safety improvements by widening of the roadway, extension of the northbound climbing lane, reconstruction of the horizontal and vertical curvature, and removal of rock face to facilitate sight distances. DOT officials don't foresee any more of an increase in traffic delays than can be expected. "If you put a shovel in the road, people will slow down," said Mark Lavorgna, DOT spokesperson. "So, anytime you drive through a construction zone, people will tend to slow down, but we don't anticipate any increase in delays any more than those that already exist." Lavorgna said the stretch of roadway has a long history of traffic accidents and the improvement will go a long way toward eliminating potential hazards caused by motorists taking their eyes off the road. "It's an unsafe condition," said Lavorgna. "And, safety is always a top priority at DOT." Lavorgna said, once completed, the roadway will include one through lane, a climbing lane for slower vehicles such as trucks and buses, and a full shoulder lane on the northbound side; and one full shoulder lane and a through lane on the southbound side. Work in the second section of the area will be limited to mitigation of a high-hazard rock fall area, which includes a substantial rock outcrop hazard and a substandard berm in the northbound direction.